Hey everyone! It’s been a while since I’ve gotten to post any fun tricks or advice. One of my goals for 2018 is to post one weekly blog post full of encouragement and advice. To start, I wanted to touch on a topic that I see a lot of people asking about in forums + struggling with. How can you help the people in front of your camera feel comfortable and look natural? While that topic in itself could be talked about for hours I thought it would be nice to start with some practical ideas that you can use right away. I primarily focus on couples + weddings so these ideas will be a bit more focused in that area but you can bend them to apply to different kinds of sessions! I focus on movement and connection during my sessions. Lets dive in- here are three of my favorite prompts/ actions to get my subjects relaxed!
TAKE AWAY EXPECTATIONS
Before I start my shoot I always like to preface the experience I would love for them to have. I think sometimes we need a little reminder (dare I say permission?) that its just okay to be ourselves. Are they introverted? Love dad jokes? I want to capture their chemistry as a couple. Being in front of the camera can feel intimidating, un-natural and stiff. I always tell the folks I’m working with that there is zero pressure during this time, that the goal is to capture them as they are and that I have no expectations for them. I’ve noticed the quick 30 seconds to say all of this really puts people at ease and helps them get into the mindset of having fun + focusing on one another rather than impressing me.
TENSION AND RELEASE
If there is one thing that gets people less focused on their nerves, it is to get them moving right out of the gate. I try to take away the opportunity to feel uncomfortable by using the ever so wonderful art of distraction. One of my favorite actions to begin a session with is tension and release. I have my couple walk away from me (maybe 25 feet) and as they are walking back I ask them to grab hands, look at one another and push and pull away from each other as they move. It creates a fast-paced, fun look in my work that I adore!
I’m always a fan of using actions that can lead to a multitude of different looks without being overly complicated. When it comes to directing your couples keeping things simple and then building onto a certain look can make the experience more easy going. I’ll ask my couple to turn townwards each other and lean into a calm slow dance. From there I can have them talk, rest their foreheads together, look different directions, kiss, etc. I feel like this is a base of my most-loved intimate photographs! You get a ton of variety with really slight changes. The best!
Along with movement I really like to incorporate a lot of talking, laughing and joking around during my shoots. I don’t want to just make people look comfortable I want them to actually walk away feeling that way! What’s the point of having pretty pictures if your experience felt meh? How someone felt matters just as much as the final product. I’ve found that if people start engaging in a little conversation it can lead to all sorts of different facial expressions and micro-movements (moving their hand a certain way, leaning into their boo, crinkling their nose when they laugh) that they would naturally fall into. I’ll say things like ‘talk through your first date’, ‘what is one thing that you’re proud of each other for?’ I’ll also add in that they don’t need to look at me while talking. This doubles as a fun way to get to know the people you’re working win in a deeper manner.